I have always loved bicycles. This love started out with the brand new blue and white Schwinn from my grandparents when I was 7 years old. Then it was the pink ten- speed Huffy. In my pre-teenage years, my friends and I used to ride around on my vintage tandem Schwinn. That was crazy stuff. Life was good. And then cars entered into the scene and stole my bicycle love. Somehow, riding around town in my 1977 White Toronado was more fun than a bike. But never fear, my bicycle love has returned full force.
Why do I love to ride? There is just something about arriving at my destination by pedaling that excites me. I love the wind in my face when I go down hills and the bugs that get stuck in my eyes when I ride too late at night. Nothing gives me greater joy than transporting my groceries via bicycle (our coop gives $5.00 off for every 10 times you ride/walk there :) ). Bella really likes riding in her Burley. Getting exercise without even thinking about it is a plus...and not having to find a parking spot is one of the best things in life.
I think that I could live and thrive without a car. Even in the winter? Yes! Many people continue to bike throughout the winter...installing "snow tires" and dressing for the cold. Bikes are everywhere in Bozeman. It's so fun to ride around on a Friday night and see bikes parked everywhere, even at the "fancier" restaurants. The only thing that is lacking are completely separate bike lanes, which would be helpful. Bozeman is not quite as "bike friendly" as a town like Boulder, CO , but they're coming around. The town is still small and slow enough where I feel relatively safe sharing the road with cars on city streets. Most drivers are respectful of your right to ride on the road.
Those of you that live in the suburbs, I feel for ya. We are visiting my family back in Des Moines right now and everything is so far away! I rode my bike to the Farmer's Market with Bella and it took 40 minutes one way. Wow! There are many things within biking distance (malls, restaurants, etc), but it's just not "bike friendly". When I ride my bike up to a store, people look at me like a have something growing from my head. As I was walking up to unlock my bike from the rack one day, I overheard a little girl say to her mom..."Why would someone ride their bike to the store?!". It was also a strange dichotomy to ride my bike alongside the Hummers (please don't run me over! :) ). Overall, Des Moines is a great city to bike in...and they have a lot of great events happening this week for "Bike to Work Week". This week, across the nation, thousands of people are riding instead of driving. Wheeeee!
With gas prices as they are right now ($3+ a gallon!) and the greater focus on green living, I suspect you will see more and more cities becoming "bicycle friendly". Large metropolitan cities have always been more focused on bikes than the suburbs...by necessity. In the suburbs, you find trails that take you around in circles for a pretty ride (which is fun too), but in the city, you actually go places on your bike. I've always had the secret dream of being a bicycle messenger (like Puck on the Real World..but with less falling down). If I ever did start my little bike business...I would definitely be getting one of these sweet rides:
Aren't those amazing!? I love the "Pedal Pick-Up". It just goes to show that you CAN move some big stuff with a bike! If you don't want to spend quite as much, you can make your own trailer. Cruisers are gaining popularity...I love the colors and designs on this one. I'm trying not to be jealous of Aimee who got this cruiser for her birthday...and Andrea who got one for Mother's Day. Beautiful bikes!
This week, I challenge you to CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Ride your bike! Ride for fun. Ride to the store. Ride for exercise. Ride to remind people that cars aren't the only option.
Resources: CarFree World How to Live Well Without a Car Why I Ride: The Art of Bicycling in New York (download the catalog for some fun reading)